Thirteen thousand children lose their lives to water-borne diseases in Nepal every year, with the majority of the deaths attributable to lack of toilets in rural households. Even more surprising is the fact that only 49 per cent of all schools in Nepal have toilet facilities. These revealing insights were made public by the Nepal chapter of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council on the occasion of the World Toilet Day (WTD) on Nov. 19. Health experts say that construction of simple and cheap toilets would reduce the number of deaths related to water-borne diseases drastically but, almost in the same breath, they moan about the lack of government initiative on this front.
Although the government has officially embarked on cutting by half the number of people without access to basic sanitation facilities by 2015, not much has been done towards meeting the target. There should be a major initiative towards building cheaper toilets in poor households, and especially in schools as children are more vulnerable than adults to water-borne diseases. Even today, 10.4 million Nepalis defecate in the open every morning, either because they have no private toilet of their own or they see nothing wrong with their unhygienic old ways. The government must take necessary steps to make people aware about how costly their unhygienic lifestyle might prove and give every possible incentive to install toilets in their houses.